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Gear Review: Soto Pocket Torch, For S’mores, Survival, and More

By National Geographic Adventure Contributing Editor Steve Casimiro, editor ofThe Adventure Life 

One of the cardinal rules of s'mores is that you don't promise what you can't deliver. All the fixin's were laid out and ready to go—dark chocolate, cinnamon graham crackers, marshmallows—and I started to build the fire. But the wood was so damp it felt like it had been sitting on the floor of a rain forest on the Olympic Peninsula since the end of the last ice age. Matches were fruitless. Then I pulled out my new secret weapon: the Soto pocket torch. Fifteen minutes later, chocolate and mallow were as one.

At first glance, the pocket-sized flame thrower seems extravagant. Why not save the $18 and just stick with the cheap disposable lighter you slip inside it? Because aside from the cost and additional 2 ounces, the pocket torch is better in almost every way. It pops off 2,300 degrees of heat, enough to solder airplane wiring in an emergency (memo to Lost castaways…), and lets you maintain a flame as long as you want without getting hot. Because of the handle and the way it shoots a cone-shaped flame, you can use it at any angle, even upside down. It's windproof (though not waterproof), and if you find yourself with damp firewood and tinder, it'll project its heat long enough to get the party started. As I see it, it’s promise insurance.